The PAC says, however, that the defense ministry has “other options” for protecting the carrier, including land-based AEW as well as reliance on allies for the AEW capability.
Aviation Week has reported that Royal Navy officials are now working with the U.K. Defense Equipment & Support procurement agency to try to advance the introduction of the Crowsnest system by two years, in a bid to retain the crew skills developed through the use of the Thales Cerberus radar currently fitted to the Sea King Mk. 7, the current helicopter AEW platform.
Responding to the report, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said, “As the National Audit Office recognized in their report in May, the MoD [ministry] acted swiftly to switch back to Stovl aircraft as soon as it became clear that the alternative would cost more money. In doing so, we did incur some costs, as the PAC records, of £74 million — but we did so in order to save £1.2 billion, a clear demonstration of our commitment to safeguard taxpayers’ money.”